As the year draws to a close, analysts are crunching the numbers on their annual statistics. Nielsen, for example, told the AP that 571 million paper books have been sold in the country, a modest increase over the 559 million paper books sold in 2014.
Coloring books for grown-ups, a concept once as out of left field as, say, a second work of fiction from Lee, were the hottest trend. Led by Johanna Basford’s “Lost Ocean” and “Enchanted Forest,” the phenomenon understandably caught on almost exclusively in the print format, and Basford has no desire to change that. Numerous apps have been designed for adult coloring, but Basford wants her work “experienced only on paper,” according to Penguin Books publisher-senior vice president Patrick Nolan.
Paper all along has been especially popular for nonfiction and children’s books, a tradition upheld for such top 2015 releases as David McCullough’s “The Wright Brothers” and Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Reagan.” For Jeff Kinney’s million-selling, illustrated “Diary of Wimpy Kid: Old School,” 95 percent of sales were for print, according to the Abrams imprint Amulet Books.
Print book sales have always exceeded digital sales, so the fact that the status has remained quo comes as no surprise. But over all, print sales have been very good for the major publishers this year, possibly due to their having signed agency ebook deals which raised the prices of their ebooks.
This includes Harlequin, which much to my surprise is now selling more print books that ebooks (maybe they shouldn’t have been sold to HarperCollins).
Along with SF, romance novels are one genre that went digital first and to a greater degree than most categories, but according to Harlequin’s EVP for North American marketing, Brent Lewis, most Harlequin sales in the US are now in paper, down from a historic 50-50 split.
“A lot of people a few years ago got new devices, so like anything that’s new and exciting you lean toward that for a period of time,” Lewis told AP. “And that shine has worn off a little bit. Some people have reverted back a bit to paper.”
Maybe, but with an estimated increase in print book sales of a couple percent over 2014, there can’t be that many people who have reverted.
So tell me, are you buying more print books than last year? Are you selling more?
I, for one, am reading more in print, but I’m not buying more print books. Instead I’ve been responding to the increase in ebook prices by checking more titles out of the library.
What about you?
image by Matt From London